Pennsylvanians across the state are beginning to understand what we in York County already knew.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf would make a great chief executive of the Keystone State.

The 65-year-old Mount Wolf native's inspiring narrative is almost legendary around here.

He's the financial wiz who gave up a previous run for governor in 2009, instead gathering all of his personal money to buy back the family's building products business after employees told him it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Hundreds of local jobs were saved at the Wolf Organization, and Wolf has since paid back the bank in full. With his new business model, the company has expanded and is now distributing in 28 states

He's also the academic — with multiple degrees from from Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of London — who interrupted his studies to join the Peace Corps, which sent him to serve in rural India.

Public service and helping those in need have been Wolf hallmarks. He's a generous philanthropist and has held seats on the boards of numerous local organization, including a stint as chair of the York County United Way.

Although this is his first run for public office, Wolf also has served at the state level as revenue secretary in the Rendell administration.

Ed Rendell calls Wolf "a very attractive candidate" for his old job.

"His views are right and, given his background and the fact that he's been successful in everything he's done, you'd have to assume he'd be a good governor," said Rendell, who so far hasn't endorsed in the primary race.

Despite his success in the business world, Wolf eschews the idea government should be run like a corporation.

"Businesses are not in the trade of educating our kids, providing health care to low-income families and children, and giving seniors the dignity of a happy and secure retirement. Our government is — or at least it should be," he said last year in announcing his bid.

Wolf's reputation is such that he's earned the respect not just of fellow Democrats, but of Republicans as well.

The York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration has reported a spike in the number of inquiries from Republicans who want to change their registrations to Democrat so they can vote for Wolf in the May 20 primary.

Tim Grumbacher is a former Republican who switched parties when Wolf was considering a run for governor in 2009. This time around, the former Bon-Ton CEO has donated $1 million to Wolf's campaign.

That contribution, combined with the $10 million Wolf pledged to his own campaign, gave him the biggest war chest in a crowded field of Democratic candidates hoping to unseat the wildly unpopular Gov. Tom Corbett.

True to form, he used the money wisely, launching a television advertising campaign to spread his name and message across the state.

Not surprising to those of us already familiar with it, Wolf's story is resonating in a big way.

One recent poll shows him leading the race with 40 percent support, double digits above his nearest primary opponent's 14 percent. Another has Wolf would beating Corbett 52 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head contest.

Yes, it's early and things can change between now and the election.

We suspect, however, that as more people pay attention to this race, Wolf's support is likely to grow.